A contractor whose construction company exposed employees and the public to asbestos will spend six months behind bars for violations of the Clean Air Act. The contractor will also pay a $10,000 fine, will face six months of home confinement, and will be on probation for three years after he is released. The special agent in charge of the local EPA’s criminal enforcement program said the “sentence should serve notice that EPA and its partner agencies remain committed to protecting communities through tough enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws.”
Contractors, construction companies and building owners have certain obligations when it comes to preventing asbestos exposure. Victims who are exposed to the deadly fibers could potentially take legal action to recover monetary compensation for damages in the event that an individual or company fails to live up to its duties to limit the risk of exposure. A Boston mesothelioma lawyer can help those who have been exposed.
Contractor Sentenced to Jail
The State reported on the contractor who has been sentenced to jail.
The incident occurred after the contractor’s construction company was hired to remove and replace siding on the Regency Towers in Myrtle Beach in March of 2009. He began renovation work without filing required written notice with the Department of Health and Environmental Control. He also did not conduct an inspection for asbestos, as is required, and he did not secure the area in order to prevent friable asbestos fibers from being released into the air.
The sides of the building, unfortunately, had asbestos fibers. Prosecutors indicate that the contractor and his employees knew that there was at least 35 cubic feet of material containing asbestos in the exterior of the building’s coding. However, they continued with the renovation, including power washing the building’s exterior, without taking the precautions the law requires.
This resulted in asbestos not just being released into the air, but also blowing onto neighborhood properties and onto a nearby beach. Employees of the contractor, local residents and visitors were exposed and even those living in the Regency Towers were not warned about the potential dangers that they faced. Workers were not provided with respiratory protection either as they were doing this dangerous work of removing asbestos-containing materials.
The contractor faced a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of as much as $250,000. He was initially charged with seven felony violations of the Clean Air Act as well as two felony charges for making false statements to EPA officials who were investigating the asbestos release. The initial allegations indicate that the contractor lied and said he had “no knowledge of the presence of asbestos on the siding of Regency Towers.”
Hopefully, with the EPA cracking down and with contractors going to jail, those performing renovating or remodeling work will be more careful in the future and will not put their workers or others at risk of breathing in asbestos fibers that could lead to mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious health conditions.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Military Veterans at High Risk for Mesothelioma, Dec. 8, 2012, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog